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UCLA-bound Tommy Silva has the best summer job: FC Tucson player
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UCLA-bound Tommy Silva has the best summer job: FC Tucson player

Tommy Silva is treating every day with FC Tucson as if it could be his last.

Because, well, it might be.

Silva, a left back and one of FC Tucson’s newest players, graduated from Utah’s Real Salt Lake Academy in May. He has committed to play soccer for UCLA starting this the fall. Silva has registered for classes (all online) and found a place to live in Westwood.

Silva is planning, for now, to leave for college Monday. The Pac-12 announced last week that men’s soccer teams — and other fall sports — will play conference-only seasons that won’t start until late September.

Silva, who attended University High School before moving to Utah to train, is enjoying his time with Tucson’s pro team. The Men in Black (1-1) will play their home opener Saturday night against Union Omaha.

“Growing up in Tucson, I’ve been going to FC Tucson games since I was 8 years old. I watched them from the stands and, I have vivid memories from the July 3 game a few years ago when Kino (North Stadium) was just packed,” said Silva, 18. “I used to dream of training and playing under the lights in front of all those people.”

Silva returned to Tucson from Utah when the coronavirus hit, riding out the closures and quarantine at his parents’ house and training at the park every morning with a friend from high school. He called the quarantine “kind of a blessing in disguise.”

“I hadn’t lived at home with my parents for almost three years, so I got almost six months with them,” he said.

FC Tucson signed Silva on July 22 knowing that his stay with the club likely wouldn’t be a long one. He traveled with the club to Florida for the team’s July 25 season opener against Fort Lauderdale CF. And while he didn’t see the field, Silva called it an unforgettable experience.

“It was the first time I’d ever been part of a professional game, so obviously being in … the brand new Inter Miami Stadium was very cool,” Silva said. “Everything was so professional, from the bus ride to warm-up times to substitutions.”

While Silva says it’s bittersweet he won’t be with FC Tucson for the duration of the truncated USL League One season, his focus has been on helping the team as best he can.

“Hopefully I’ll get some playing time soon,” Silva said.

Regardless of how much he is used, Silva said he’ll treasure what has become a unique summer job. When he says he’s taking the season “day by day,” he means it: it likely won’t be long before he swaps his gray and black jersey for a baby blue and gold one. Silva, who will be studying entrepreneurship with a focus on the environment at UCLA, hopes to play professionally after college.

“I’m honestly so lucky to be able to play and train with FC Tucson right now,” Silva said. “The first few weeks I was with them, I was just super stoked for the opportunity to be training with a team after so long.”

Contact reporter Caitlin Schmidt at cschmidt@tucson.com or 573-4191. Twitter: @caitlincschmidt

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When the Men in Black step out onto the field of Fort Lauderdale CF Stadium at on Saturday, they won't be the first team in their league or even sport to return to play. But they'll be the first pro team from Southern Arizona to do it, a point of pride for first-year president Amanda Powers her team. The game between the Men in Black and Fort Lauderdale CF starts at 4 p.m., and can be streamed online on ESPN+.

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